Wednesday, February 24, 2010

When Population Growth was a GOOD thing...

It has been hammered into our brains ever since we were born that overpopulation was one of the fundamental reasons for the poverty and underdevelopment of nations. It holds an exalted position in the vicious cycle of poverty and has been a major thrust of the United Nations Development Program which has sponsored countless programmes to curb overpopulation in the least developing nations.

Many economists of the developed world have come out with papers and evidence to prove that overpopulation is directly correlated to low GDP.

However, Karl Marx, known to all the founding father of Communism, had a fascinating theory about the role of population in economic development of nations.

Marxian political economy theory talks extensively about the core and the periphery - the developed countries bossing over the developing countries, keeping them under their control economically and politically. The agents of control are MNCs, International Organizations and sometimes even NGOs. While this formed the main part of Marx’s theory and the consequent public policy adopted by Marxist governments, neo-Marxism took these assumptions a step further.

Marx stated that overpopulation is NOT a factor in economic growth and development. The neo-Marxists took it a level further by claiming that this agenda was perpetrated by the developed nations through international organizations and economic research agencies as a form of modern genocide. They believed that the developed nations took the developing nations to be inferior and by promoting population control as a feature of economic growth, the developing world would be outnumbered by the developed and soon the former would be eradicated completely.

I'm going to repeat this purely for effect. The neo-Marxists claim that ALL ADVOCATES OF POPULATION CONTROL ARE PERPETRATING GENOCIDE.

The audacity of the neo-Marxists’ claim was obviously met by unanimous opposition from the capitalist world. I am sure the reader of this article would experience similar emotions. Of course, all our textbooks, governments and everything we’ve ever heard has stressed on the primary importance of population control. China, today, stands living proof of the miracles that can be achieved through population control.

How then, does the neo- Marxists’ claim add up?

Marx believed that population growth was a problem in the capitalist world due to the gross inequities and inadequacies of the capitalist system. Inadequacies which the socialist economy endeavored to eradicate, to the extent where population growth was good. So good that the USSR implemented a tax on single child and childless couples and banned abortion.

Similarly, China was lauded for its massive rate of growth. Mao Zedong is quoted to have said that “A large population is a good thing. With a population increase of several folds we still have an adequate solution.”
Neo-Marxists took the cue from these sentiments and championed the cause of population growth. However, with the fall of Communism, their theories were unequivocally disproved by the capitalist world. China itself took a 180 degree turn from their existing policy and undertook the most stringent population control policy ever seen by the word.

The neo-Marxists were left out in the dark and their sole mode of self-defense was to call on dependency theory to explain this contradiction. They claimed quite shamelessly that any reference to population growth as a vice was a purely imperialist move, aimed at modern, hidden genocide and the developing world, including China had no alternative but to cooperate.

It is fascinating how such an unusual, unexpected line of thought has stayed alive long after its vehement disproval. No non-Marxist in the world today could, while in their senses, claim that population growth is an acceptable phenomenon. The world’s unanimous calls for population control in both the developing and developed world have been almost unchallenged, except for the lone voice of neo-Marxism that stands strong.


Raghavendra said...

Very well written post. I find the claim by the Neo-marxists very intriguing and I agree that it is something that we should think about. However, I am not sure about the reasons that they have advocated.

The socialist principles adopted by neo-marxists did endeavour to erase inadequacies by dividing wealth amongst all. However, this raises the question if the 'fair' share that everyone is given is indeed enough for the progression of the economy. A system in which population increase is present and wealth distribution uniform, need not assure the social and economic development of people. If the development is absent, the population will not be as productive as the scenario demands and this will lead to country as a declining in every dimension.

spud said...

See, the thing is, the REASONS for Marx advocating this claims lies in something a lot deeper that I have not talked about here.

Its tied to Malthus's Model of Development. In my personal view, he created his model purely to destroy Malthus - who was a hard-core capitalist. If you're interested you should read Marx's Theory of the "Reserve Army of Labour" and that will give you a better understanding of WHY he believed in population growth.

I did not include details of that in this, because those are really technical and I honestly don't know how to simplify something even I barely understand!

Ankit Ashok said...

The reason neo-Marxist's have survived is the fact that humans want to take solace in large numbers when they are not self confident.

And for someone to convince me about communist (neo or otherwise) ideas, he/she will have to present arguments 10 times stronger - so that I can overlook the mammoth lack of rationality on their part , to have subscribed to such thoughts at the first place.

And yes, one will have to figure out a way to meander through long, convoluted sentences.

narayan said...

Akshita amma,

While you are not addressing weighty issues of neo-morpheus-trinity-tank- marxist thought, are you getting time to spell your chords?

Or even engage in some song writing? This post for example can use a lot of minors, minor sevenths and other melancholic sounds if laid out in song.

Trust you are well.

-Narayan UnKool

spud said...

Narayan UNCLE!

I have actually been playing! I have come in possession of a classical guitar, the width of which my my tiny hands refuse to cover.

But still, i play on. Wish you were here still remains my favourite :) Thanks for that! :)

Are the heads still talking ?